David Waterfield is taking part in the Memory Walk (Your Walk, Your Way) at West Park in Wolverhampton next Saturday (2 November) after his 80 year old mother Mary was diagnosed with Mixed Dementia – a combination of Alzheimer’s Disease and Vascular Dementia – in 2016.
Dementia is a debilitating illness which affects more than 3,000 people in Wolverhampton - with that number expected to rise by over 50% by 2035. Nationally there are 850,000 people living with dementia; some 600 people per day receive a dementia diagnosis, with the disease affecting 1 in 6 people over the age of 80.
David, who works for the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Revenue and Benefits team, said: "Dementia is a cause close to my heart; Mum's condition means she struggles with things like cooking, shopping, doing the laundry, paperwork, gardening and keeping track of her appointments and medication, so I take care of all of that for her.
"Sadly she gets confused at times and doesn’t always know that I am her son, or she anxiously looks for her husband, her mother or her brothers and sisters, all of whom are no longer alive.
"It can be rewarding looking after someone with dementia but I would be lying if I said that it’s not also upsetting, stressful and exhausting. Inevitably, caring for someone means putting some of your own needs aside but, in caring for Mum, I have had to find depths of love and perseverance that I didn’t know I had.
"Wolverhampton is a Dementia Friendly City and I am proud it is hosting a Memory Walk (Your Walk, Your Way); I hope it will be a huge success and I will be there walking in recognition of my Mum."
He will be joined by colleague Sandra Hevican and dozens of other for the fundraising walk, beginning at 11.30am. Everyone is welcome – to take part, please meet by the bandstand from 11am. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call Lee on 07484 084656. To sponsor David, please visit JustGiving.
Dementia affects different parts of the brain, so it impacts different people in different ways. It can affect the memory, causing people to forget events, names, faces and locations or it can impair the ability to communicate as the person with dementia struggles to find the right words, or understand what others are saying. Dementia can also damage cognition and the ability of the individual to make decisions or regulate their emotional state.
In the later stages of the disease the person with dementia may have trouble speaking clearly or telling others how they feel. They may need assistance to eat or drink and may not be able to wash or dress themselves or go to toilet without help.
Councillor Linda Leach, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Adult Services, said: "Dementia is a terrible disease that can affect any one at any time. It has a major impact on the quality of life of those living with the condition; it can also have a physical, psychological, social and economic impact on their families and carers too.
“As a Dementia Friendly City we are determined to do all we can to help people living with the condition, and their families and carers, and it’s great to see events such as the Memory Walk (Your Walk, Your Way) which will raise both awareness and vital funds in the fight against dementia.”
For more information about the help and support available locally around dementia, please visit Dementia. People who are worried about dementia can also contact the Alzheimer's Society for information and support either via the National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122 or by visiting Alzheimer’s Society.
Wolverhampton was officially granted Dementia Friendly Community status by the Alzheimer's Society in December 2017 in recognition of the efforts being made to improve services for people living with dementia, and their families and carers.
Wolverhampton Dementia Action Alliance, which comprises a wide range of organisations including retailers, businesses, health and the emergency services, charities, religious groups and education providers, was also the winner in the Dementia Friendly Community of the Year city or county category at the Alzheimer’s Society's Dementia Friendly Awards in 2018.